A United Captain Without the ArmbandAdded by Philip Meese on 03 May 2017 22:29
By Frank Mead, Editor
In tonight’s Manchester Evening News, there was an article where Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera played down his chances of being the future Manchester United captain. He would be a popular choice for most fans, who love his passion, desire and enthusiasm for the club. He is one of the few players, foreign or otherwise, that seem to get what it means to play for our club.
Earlier this season, our Editor-in-Chief Philip Meese did an article for Last Word on Sports about Herrera’s potential as captain. It was well received by most United fans that read it, and most were in total agreement. We were both there on his debut, also Louis van Gaal’s first match as manager, and were instantly impressed. We couldn’t believe it when he brought off after an hour, as he had been our best player. We went on to lose 2-1.
Over his first two years at United, Ander Herrera was used sparingly by van Gaal. It seemed he wasn’t a fan of the player whose transfer he had the final say on, and ultimately green lit. As Herrera showed in the recent win over Chelsea, he has a real eye for a forward pass, and likes to take risks. This was in total contrast to van Gaal’s safety-first style of football, where 75% possession was far more important than three points.
It took a month or so for Herrera to become an important player under José Mourinho, but when he was given his chance he didn’t let his new manager down. His entrance in the derby in September is one of the main reasons the second half was a pretty even contest. Without him, the first half had been a walkover for City’s midfield, and we were lucky not to be four down at the break.
A Natural Leader
It doesn’t look as though club captain Wayne Rooney has much of a future at Old Trafford. He hasn’t exactly been integral to Mourinho’s plans this season, even when he’s been fit. In his absence, the armband has been passed to Vice-captain Michael Carrick, Chris Smalling and even Marouane Fellaini. Herrera hasn’t been given the opportunity once, which makes you wonder if he ever will be. Surely our manager can spot a leader when he sees one. If he had Herrera in mind for the captaincy, given how often the armband has been up for grabs this season, you would think he would have given him a try.
It might be that Mourinho doesn’t want to burden the midfielder, and would prefer him to concentrate on his natural game. Even without the armband, he is rapidly becoming a figure that the other players look up to. Even before that masterful performance against the rent-boys, in which Hazard might as well have not been on the pitch, his authority in the team was established well before that. In the 0-0 draw at Anfield back in October, he was screaming at the other members of the team, ordering them around. Those that are paying attention will have noticed he does this most weeks.
Another reason could be that he doesn’t want to put a spotlight on him. We already have Real Madrid sniffing around David De Gea once again this year. Making Herrera United captain would highlight just how highly he is thought of at Old Trafford, and might make some of La Liga’s finest take notice as well. So far, there haven’t been any rumours linking him with a move back home. That would suggest either that they don’t rate him, or he has slipped under their radar. If it is the latter, why draw attention to him for the sake of an armband?
With or Without the Armband
Ander Herrera is fast becoming one of United’s most popular players, especially now that he is a first pick most weeks. In spite of the fact that he isn’t the biggest of players, he isn’t afraid of any opponent. This was emphasized when he brilliantly niggled Steven Gerrard into stamping on him two years ago, earning an early bath for his troubles. He nips at players, gets them to retaliate, however big they are (and in fairness Gerrard is a bit bigger than Herrera). He seems to be completely fearless, not intimidated by anyone.
Sure he has a tendency for a silly booking, but some rate Roy Keane as our greatest ever captain. Well he had a habit of getting sent off, but any team would be happy to have him skippering them. Like Keane, Herrera can run all day long, never gets tired. Basically he is willing to die for the cause, which is exactly the sort of attitude you want from a captain.
There could be plenty of reasons that Mourinho hasn’t given the Spanish international a shot at being captain, some of which are listed above. It could be that he has earmarked one of his potential summer signings as a future skipper. Whatever his thinking is, in Ander Herrera he has a man who is already a Manchester United captain; with or without the armband.